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Title: Nuclear forensic analysis of an unknown uranium ore concentrate sample seized in a criminal investigation in Australia

In early 2009, a state policing agency raided a clandestine drug laboratory in a suburb of a major city in Australia. While searching the laboratory, they discovered a small glass jar labelled “Gamma Source” and containing a green powder. The powder was radioactive. This paper documents the detailed nuclear forensic analysis undertaken to characterize and identify the material and determine its provenance. Isotopic and impurity content, phase composition, microstructure and other characteristics were measured on the seized sample, and the results were compared with similar material obtained from the suspected source (ore and ore concentrate material). While an extensive range of parameters were measured, the key ‘nuclear forensic signatures’ used to identify the material were the U isotopic composition, Pb and Sr isotope ratios, and the rare earth element pattern. These measurements, in combination with statistical analysis of the elemental and isotopic content of the material against a database of uranium ore concentrates sourced from mines located worldwide, led to the conclusion that the seized material (a uranium ore concentrate of natural isotopic abundance) most likely originated from Mary Kathleen, a former Australian uranium mine.
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  1. Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Kirrawee, NSW (Australia)
  2. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0379-0738; TRN: US1600478
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Forensic Science International
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 240; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0379-0738
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND RUEL MATERIALS; 37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; Nuclear forensics; Uranium ore concentrate; Nuclear forensic signatures
OSTI Identifier: